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Drywall Thickness for Ceiling (All You Need to Know)

Drywall can be called a game changer in the construction industry. It comes in different sizes, thicknesses, and types. In addition to length and weight, it is way too crucial to opt for the perfect thickness. 

Ultimately the correct thickness of the drywalls will protect the walls and ceilings and serve the purpose. If you have decided to install drywalls on your ceilings, you should be aware of the thickness issues before purchasing. 

Let’s find out the required thickness for drywalls while installing them on ceilings. 

Drywall thickness for ceiling

Drywall panels that are 5/8 inch thick are standard size for ceiling, as per the drywall codes. The spacing joist is recommended for 24 inches. If the joists of the ceiling are spaced 24 inches, sometimes the panels can be 1/2 inches as per the recommendation of the codes and standards.

In residential and commercial spaces, the standard thickness is recommended for 1/2 inch panels with space joists of 24 inches. Drywalls come in different types and sizes. Usually, you do not need special thickness for the ceilings and regular size will do. 

But it will vary from place to place. Let us find out the required thickness level for ceilings in different structures – 

Basement ceiling:

Since the basement is located underground and devoid of sunlight and fresh air, the drywalls should be of special thickness. For a basement, the standard thickness required is 5/8 inches. It is the thickest option and is ideal for places like a basement. 

Because of the excess moisture, the basement is prone to molding and mildew. Standard 1/2 inch panels have more chances to sag between the joists due to moisture. 5/8 inch is the thickest and the joists are less likely to sag compared to other thickness options. 

So, for the basement, 5/8 inches is the ideal option.

Garage ceiling:

While choosing the perfect thickness for the garage, you have to take some factors into consideration. If the garage is detached from the house or the top floor is secluded, a regular 1/2 inch panel with 24 inch space joist will be sufficient. 

When the garage ceiling is attached with an additional floor on the top, the panels have to be upgraded to 5/8 inch. 

As per the local codes and standards, when the ceiling is adjacent to another floor, the common ceiling should have 5/8 inch panels to decrease fire casualties.  

A 5/8 inch fire-resistant panel can hold the fire for 45-60 minutes, while a 1/2 inch can do so for 30 minutes maximum.  

Bathroom ceiling:

The best drywall option for the bathroom ceiling is a green board. It is mold-resistant drywall to fight back the extra moisture of the bathroom. Mold-resistant drywall comes in two different thicknesses – 1/2 inch and 5/8 inch. 

Green board has an additional paper backing which is thicker than the regular drywalls. So, if you opt for the mold-resistant type of drywalls 1/2 inch of thickness will work best. 

Cathedral ceiling:

Cathedral ceiling is tricky because there is bending, and the shape is triangular. So, 1/2 inch thickness will be ideal. Also, the cathedral is adjacent to the rooftop. That is why it gets plenty of sunlight and moisture is minimal there. 

So, there is very little chance for the joists to sag even in 1/2-inch panels. 

Kitchen ceiling:

Kitchen ceilings require a green board or mold-resistant board for the excess moisture content and steam. The thickness can be either 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch. Since kitchens are prone to fire accidents, the 5/8 inch panels have upper hand.

Do ceilings have to be 5/8 drywall?

You do not always need 5/8 inch panel drywalls for ceilings. The ideal thickness of the ceiling is 5/8 inches indeed. It is the thickest option among the drywalls and preferable in residential and commercial spaces. 

But if the added benefits that come along with 5/8 panels are not your priority, you can certainly opt for 1/2 inches panels. 

If you live in a one-storied, detached building, you can easily go for 1/2 inch paneling. Also, if you live in an area where the location is not prone to fire risk, mildew strike, or excess moisture, 1/2 inch panels will suffice. 

5/8 panels are thickest and so the heaviest. If your goal is lightweight drywalls, 5/8 is not an ideal option for you. Also, if you are on a tight budget, 5/8 panels will be heavier on your pockets. So, 5/8 is the standard option for ceilings but not mandatory. 

Standard drywall thickness for residential ceilings

For residential ceilings, the standard drywall thickness is 5/8 inch panels with 24 inch spacing joist. 5/8 inch panels are not only thickest but also strongest, so it is a good option for the ceiling since this prevents the sagging in the middle of joints. 

The extra thickness brings out many underlying benefits which makes it ideal for residential purposes. 

In residential areas, the houses are not secluded, and the walls and ceilings mostly share a common space of another room or floor. 

As per the building codes and standards, when there is a common ceiling or wall between two rooms, the wall should have 5/8 inches panels on the ceiling side to avoid fire casualties. 

5/8 inch panels add some extra benefits which other thickness sizes can’t ensure. Those are more fire-resistant and can hold off the fire for 45 to 60 minutes. Also, their fiber materials are prone to resist mold and mildew. This has the lowest chance to sag among all the other options.  

5/8 inch panels are rigid and durable. Since in residential space construction work causes disturbance, this is the safest option considering you will not need to replace them for a long time.

4 factors that affect the drywall thickness for ceiling

Generally, the standard thicknesses used in drywalls are 1/2 inch or 5/8 inch. Which one is suitable for you will depend on some underlying factors. Since drywall is a long-term investment, you should take the factors into consideration before making the final decision.

Let’s find out the factors that affect the drywall thickness – 

Common space:

If your ceiling shares a common wall with another floor, then the thickness should be 5/8 inch, to reduce the fatality of fire hazard. But if the ceiling is detached for another floor or establishment, you can go for 1/2 inch panels for your ceiling. 

Moisture content of the area:

If you live in a humid place that is prone to molding and mildew strike, you need 5/8 inch panels that are mold resistant. The 5/8 inch thickness is less likely to sag compared to other sizes and will endure the excess moisture better than any drywalls.  

Weight of the drywalls:

Since the ceiling hangs over the top, the overall weight of the drywall is a big factor. As 5/8 inch drywall is the thickest, it certainly weighs the most. If you want something lightweight for your ceiling, 1/2 inch panels will be a better option for you.


5/8 inch panels come with lots of benefits_ more fire-resistant, mold-resistant, and soundproof. But for such heavy duty, the price gets heavier as well. If you are under a tight budget and the extra benefits don’t interest you, 1/2 inch panels will work best. 

What drywall is best for ceilings?

There are numerous types of drywalls for you to choose from. Depending on your budget and demands, you can opt for the perfect one for you. To name a few drywalls best for ceiling –

Regular drywalls:

This type is called white board and is most used among the folk. This comes in all sizes and thicknesses. Regular drywalls are mostly used in residential housing and are one of the best options for ceilings. 

Mold-resistant drywalls:

In a humid area, green board drywalls suit best. Their glass fiber material defies the excess moisture contents and repels mold and mildew. Ceilings in the kitchen, basement, and garage will do great in green board drywall. 

Lightweight drywalls:

Lightweight drywalls are so trendy these days, especially for ceilings. Lightweight panels are easy to carry and cost comparatively cheaper. It is also very easy to bend. 

Soundproof drywalls:

All drywalls are sound resistant but soundproof drywalls have an extra layer of wood fiber and gypsum which expands the sound transmission class over the regular kind. 

Fire-resistant drywalls:

There are two kinds of fire-resistant drywall – Type X and Type C. Their fire-resistant polymer resists the fire for more than one hour which regular kinds can’t guarantee. 

Final Thoughts:

The ideal thickness of drywall for ceilings is 5/8 inch panels with a space joist of 24 inches. The 1/2 inch panels will do great, but the 5/8 inch sheets fetch some additional benefits such as better fire resistance, finer soundproofing, strong mold resistance, and less probability of sagging.